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CITY ANNOUNCES NOMINEES SELECTED FOR THE CITIZENS POLICE OVERSIGHT COMMISSION

In Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., News by PHL Council

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Public asked to provide feedback regarding the nine nominees selected at an upcoming town hall on February 7

PHILADELPHIA — The City announced today that the Selection Panel for the Citizens Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) has completed its review of the 320 applicants who applied to serve as one of CPOC’s initial nine commissioners.

The Citizens Police Oversight Commission—spearheaded by Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District) and announced in September 2021—is an oversight agency designed to ensure the just, transparent, and efficient administration of criminal justice in Philadelphia through fair and timely investigation into and monitor conduct, policies, and practices of the Philadelphia Police Department and its sworn personnel. The goal of its work is to expand accountability and transparency around the Police Department and its officers, and create better community interactions with law enforcement.

The application generated a diverse applicant pool. Over 70 percent of the applicants identified as a person of color, 43 percent indicated that their annual income was less than $50,000, and 36 percent indicated that their annual income was between $50,000 and $100,000. As it relates to education, half of the applicants do not hold either a bachelor’s degree or a postgraduate degree.

Overall, a great percentage of the applicants mirrored the population that is most likely to be stopped by police in Philadelphia—marginalized people of color, specifically Black and Brown people. The Selection Panel reviewed every application and selected to interview 32 applicants that the Panelists collectively believed would be helpful in enhancing police oversight in Philadelphia.

The nine prospective commissioners selected will bring differing police accountability experiences including a wrongfully convicted commissioner, a youth commissioner who has led a movement to dismantle the school to prison pipeline, a commissioner who is a police domestic violence survivor, two commissioners with years of experience in litigating policing issues, and four additional commissioners who collectively have participated in grassroots movements to strengthen police accountability.

The process to identify these nine commissioners was lengthy, but necessary. Since the Selection Panel was appointed in September 2021, they have met weekly to review the applications, decide upon relevant qualifications, and safeguard an equitable selection process. However, their task is not complete. The Selection Panel wishes to incorporate feedback from the community regarding these nine candidates before officially submitting their names for consideration and approval by all members of Philadelphia City Council.

The Selection Panel will hold a virtual town hall on Monday, February 7, 2022 from 5 p.m – 7 p.m. to solicit feedback from the community. Those wishing to register to speak at the town hall or submit questions must do so by emailing [email protected] no later than noon on February 7th. Those wishing to attend the townhall can access it online via Zoom. The nine prospective CPOC commissioners and their Police District include:

  • Hassan Bennett (19th)
  • Haakim Peay (16th)
  • Jahlee Hatchett (12th)
  • Benjamin Lerner (9th)
  • Allan Wong (3rd)
  • Maryelis Santiago (24th)
  • Rosaura Torres Thomas (15th)
  • Melanie DeBouse (35th)
  • John Solomon (39th)

“The Selection Panel would like to thank everyone who applied to serve as a CPOC Commissioner; we received outstanding applications and interviewed incredible candidates. Even though this Panel has identified nine prospective candidates for these positions, this process is not the only method of advancing police accountability in Philadelphia,” said Anjelica Hendricks, Esq., Chair of CPOC Selection Committee. “If confirmed, these Commissioners will need the support of residents, and some of the ways that we all can contribute to the success of CPOC includes providing them with suggestions, applying for newly created CPOC positions, and attending future CPOC events. These nine individuals collectively have a vast array of experiences related to policing; however, those experiences are not exhaustive. They will be tasked with an enormous challenge of incorporating several different perspectives as they attempt to advance police oversight in Philadelphia. We must do all that we can to ensure their success.”

“Our administration is humbled and excited by the diversity and number of applicants received from individuals who want to be a part of the Commission and to give back to Philadelphia,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, “With so many applications, the selection panel had difficult choices to make, but I want to thank everyone who took the time to apply. We look forward to seeing how the new Commissioners approach the vital work of increasing police accountability and bridging the relationship between the department and the community it serves. We also encourage applicants who were not selected, and all Philadelphians, to stay engaged and activated. It will take all of us working together to guarantee the success of the CPOC and its Commissioners.”

“As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, I would like to thank the selection committee for reviewing hundreds of applications which narrowed it down to the 9 applicants. These final selections are diverse both geographically and ethnically, which should aid them in performing their duties, ” states Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr..

“We’re gratified to see the progress being made towards the establishment of the new Citizens Police Advisory Commission,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke. (5th District) “The commission appointees are a diverse group, and now their work begins: To enhance police accountability, to serve as a bridge between the police and the communities they serve, and to ensure equal justice and public safety are prioritized together in Philadelphia. Kudos to Public Safety Chairman Jones for his hard work on this important initiative.”

CPOC Application Timeline

The application for CPOC commissioners opened on September 29, 2021 and closed on November 5, 2021. Applications were considered on a rolling basis beginning October 15, 2021. City Council will hold its own hearing to vote to confirm the slate of candidates nominated by the Selection Panel, pending feedback from the community at the town hall on Monday, February 7, 2022.

About the Selection Panel

The Kenney Administration and City Council identified a slate of civic and community leaders to shepherd the selection process for commissioners:

  • Pastor Carl Day is the Pastor at Culture Changing Christians Worship Center and the President and Founder of the outreach nonprofit, Culture Changing Christians.
  • Vanessa Garrett Harley is the First Deputy Managing Director at the City of Philadelphia, and former Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
  • Anjelica Hendricks, Esq. is a Quattrone Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and former Senior Policy Analyst for the Police Advisory Commission.
  • Pastor Mark Tyler is the Pastor at Mother Bethel AME Church and Co-Director of POWER Live Free Campaign.
  • Samantha J. Williams, Esq. is the Director of Legislation and Policy for Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr., and a former Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

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